Thursday, February 21, 2008

$23 Million Dollar New Visitor Center at Red Rock - What a Waste of Money!

The RJ reported today the BLM will spend $23 million for a new visitor center. I can think of lots of projects that would be more beneficial to hikers. How about improving trails and signs? The trail to Turtlehead Peak is a joke. How about a definitive trail into Pine Creek Canyon or First Creek Canyon? The existing trail systems are a maze of spider webs. And those brown plastic trail signs are so flimsy the slightest wind blows them over.

One of the most needed projects is more parking at various trailheads. On weekends Pine Creek's parking lot fills up by 10 am. Even the parking lot at Sandstone Quarry is becoming too crowded on the weekends. And let's talk about every hiker’s worst road, the Scenic Loop. It's nice to drive the first few times, but after 100+ trips it's a waste of time and gas. Why not take that money and make the Scenic Loop a two way road or, at least, a two way road from Pine Creek to the exit? Either option would eliminate tons of congestion.

Here's the real reason a new visitor center is being built. In the mind of many BLM employees a trip to Red Rock includes a stop at the visitor center, driving the Scenic Loop, and maybe getting out of the car and walking 100 feet. In other words: no hiking.

Here's a test you can do to validate the above acusation. Go into the visitor center and ask them about Global Peak, the Monument or Tunnel Vision Peak. I'll bet you nine out of ten times the people at the visitor center will tell you they never heard of these peaks. Global Peak and the Monument were named 25 years ago and appeared in the book: The Red Rocks of Southern Nevada, first printing 1984. Here's an idea to BLM and visitor center employees: Learn about the land you are managing. And remember, the BLM manages the land; they do not own it.

Do you agree or disagree with me? Post a comment. (AG, no need to waste your time.)